Tennis 2019: Plus ça change...

InstaFace

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Quarterfinals on the docket tonight, all times ET:

8:30pm: (22) Bautista Agut v (14) Tsitsipas (T is up 2 sets to 1)
11:45pm: Pavlyuchenkova v unknown american Danielle Collins*
3:00am: (8) Petra Kvitova v (15) Ashleigh Barty, hometown heroine
5:00am: (2) Nadal v Tiafoe

* I read about and watch as much women's tennis as anyone on this site, probably, and I have never heard of Collins. She's the one who absolutely spanked 2-seed Angie Kerber, 6-0 6-2 the other day - and what unseeded player bagels a previous champ and 3-time slam winner? She's ranked 35 (1 ahead of Venus!), having shot up there from 100+ in the last year, which was her first full year on tour. She's played 24 events in the last year, which is a lot, but looking at her logs she has hardly won a main-draw match above the International level (sorta the AAA tour). Had a decent run to the semis in San Jose (2nd-tier WTA event), and - oh, wait, OK there it is, she's the one who ran to the semis of Miami, knocking off Venus Williams in the quarters in straight sets last year. OK, yeah, now I got her. +840 ranking points for that one, that'll keep you out of a lot of quallies.

Anyway, this tournament, she's knocked off #14 Julia Gorges, #19 Caroline Garcia, plus Kerber, and now has a very winnable match to go to a semi. She had to qualify for Sydney and then lost in the first round of the main draw, but in the first round of Brisbane she faced and lost to Kvitova (now a likely semifinal opponent) but gave her quite a match, 6-7(6), 7-6(6), 6-3. And now here she stands, one of the least heralded slam quarterfinalists in recent memory.

Oh yeah, and Ash Barty gets the full Federer rooting treatment, it's like Konta at Wimbledon. Not too many chances to see a tennis crowd go apeshit rooting for one of their own - maybe Miami for Serena and Venus - so it's a fun atmosphere. I wish I could stay up for that one. As it is, I'll be up with the baby for the second set of Nadal-Tiafoe, so if you're around @jon abbey we can gamethread it.
 

jon abbey

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I have been crashing around 5 or 6 AM generally, but Nadal/Tiafoe is tempting to try to power through, I'll see.

Tsitsipas gets to the semis, he'll play the winner of Nadal/Tiafoe.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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Collins is not sharp at all early, as she is broken in the first game of the match.

But she seems to be finding the range in Pavlyuchenkova's first service game as shots that were going into the net on her service game are now finding the corners and we're to a 7th deuce.
 
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InstaFace

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Collins has great power on groundstrokes, but not great responsibility - a lot of careless, unforced shots wide or long.

After a 6-2 first set to P'ova, Collins has her focus under control a bit, on-serve and up 2-1 in the 2nd.
 

jon abbey

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Pam Shriver said all Collins' previous wins against seeds were on a different court, and it's very different playing on this one (she said this just a couple of games in).
 

InstaFace

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she's cut! the Russian is cut!

I mean, I criticized her spraying a few balls, but compared to P's play the last few games, Collins is Caroline Wozniacki. Definitely seeing a ton of nerves on both sides. If you put me and some other neophyte on this court playing for a million dollars, I imagine we'd mishit a few more than usual too.

Except Pavlyuchenkova is a tour veteran, she's been pro since 2005, slam main draws since 2007, has seen only 4 slam QFs in 44 tries, losing all 4.

edit: that was quite a "FUCK YEAH!" for a service hold that didn't win the set, on an otherwise-quiet court.
 
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jon abbey

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Yeah, she's very boisterous and cocky, even in her interview after the last match, very rare in the tennis world.
 

jon abbey

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Here are some of those quotes:

"I may not have won a Grand Slam match before this week," Collins, 25, said on-court after defeating Kerber, "but I gotta tell you, I think it's gonna keep happening."

Not surprisingly, those remarks drew a reaction from the crowd. Rare is the player, especially in the women's game, who is willing to speak with the same boldness and self-assuredness with which she swings a racket.

"From the very first point, I showed her that I wasn't going to let her into the match, that I was going to dictate the entire way through," Collins said later. "I stuck to my game plan. It clearly worked out well for me. Pretty much smooth sailing throughout the entire thing."

When asked whether she's surprised by how well she has performed this fortnight, becoming the first former collegiate player in 15 years to advance to the quarterfinals of a Slam, Collins answered, "Honestly, no." She knows she has the talent to beat the top players in the world; it's the rest of the world that is just finding out."
 

jon abbey

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There it is, Collins breaks to win the second set, good job fighting in that game.
 

jon abbey

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Now Collins is back in the groove she was in against Kerber, two easy game wins to go up 2-0 in the 3rd.
 

jon abbey

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7 in a row now, 5-0 in the 3rd. Go Danielle! Looking forward to this post-match interview...
 

jon abbey

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She tightened up a bit at the end understandably but finished it off 6-1, good job Danielle!!
 

jon abbey

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Disappointing post-match interview, Courier would have pushed her into better quotes but it was the Australian TV person who did it and it was routine and dull.
 

jon abbey

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Kvitova stomps Barty, she hasn't lost a set here yet. Patrick McEnroe picked her to win the whole thing coming in, the lopsided draw has certainly favored her a lot but she is playing great.
 

jon abbey

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Tiafoe looked overmatched in the first set, a quick 6-3 win for Nadal.
 

InstaFace

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Routine for Nadal after all, at 3, 4 and 2. But Tiafoe looked pretty good from the brief bits I saw, relative to playing a living legend. He wasn't run off the court.

Collins has played Kvitova recently, a few weeks ago, and gave her absolute hell - split two very close tiebreaks before Petra put her away, barely, in the third. It will inevitably be the undercard if the other semi ends up Serena-Osaka, but that whole evening is going to be appointment viewing.
 

InstaFace

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Day 2 of QFs:

7:00pm: (4) Osaka v (6) Svitolina
9:00pm: (16) Serena v (7) Pliskova
11:00pm: (16) Raonic v (28) Lucas Pouille
3:30am: (1) Djokovic v (8) Nishikori

Osaka match is on ESPN+, all others on ESPN2. Women's semis will be the weds-to-thurs overnight, Men's semis will be the thurs-to-fri overnight.
 

jon abbey

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Yep, the Tennis Channel shows the first couple hours every night before ESPN2 takes over, Osaka won the first set 6-4, very ugly play but she pulled it out.
 

InstaFace

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Osaka crushes in the 2nd, 6-1, moves to SF to face winner now. Main event is on (on ESPN2).

Serena makes shots that are really difficult, like backhand cross-courters with spin, look so trivially easy and high-percentage that you wonder why everyone doesn't do them all the time. Her footwork ain't always right, sometimes she sprays 'em, but man does she attack.
 

InstaFace

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Serena is shaky the first few games of the 2nd, drops her serve pretty quickly... and then shifts into her top gear. Wins the next 4 points to break back at love. They trade well-played service games for a while, and then Pliskova serving at 5-4*, she gets up 40-15, and Serena just grabs hold and doesn't let go. It goes to deuce. Pliskova hits a deuce-court ace, Serena punishes an ad-court winner, they repeat like 4 times in a row, until she finally gets worn down and Serena breaks to take the 2nd.

Serena has no right to be in this match, she's just been way less consistent in her shot-making. Pliskova is practically a big-groundstroke robot out there, absolutely clinical, and hitting a shocking fraction of balls that Serena just doesn't even try to return. Serena will need to dial the clock back a few years to take this third set.
 

Matty005

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Serena dominating the 3rd set. Then at match point a foot fault is called on her. That point she turns her ankle bad. And now Pliskova right back in it.

Absurd to call a foot fault on match point.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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Pliskova has gotten back both breaks she was down and the third set is back on serve at 5 - 4 to Serena.

And now Serena has two match points on Pliskova's serve. But Pliskova takes it back to deuce and wins the game after facing one additional match point. Serena serving at 5 - 5.

And now Pliskova breaks Serena at love (!) to take a 6 - 5 lead; she'll be serving for the match.

Shocking collapse for Serena as she was up 5 - 1 in the third then lost the last six games to lose the match.
 
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swiftaw

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I'm not sure if she's won a single point on her serve since she hurt her ankle.
 

Matty005

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Sickening that call is made. Bad for tennis too. A rematch of the US Open finals would have been amazing for tennis. (Even if it is at 3am).
 

jon abbey

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You’re 100% right but it’s like holding in football. You can almost make that call on every serve. To make it there is just not a good look.
Yeah, if that is true (I don't know if it is), then I agree.
 

Matty005

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Yeah, if that is true (I don't know if it is), then I agree.
Unless it’s outrageous, you don’t make that call. That’s my take. I know not everyone shares that opinion, but I just hate seeing a match decided on something like that.

Pliskova still could have blown it, so credit to her. Once she saw weakeness she pounced.
 

jon abbey

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Unless it’s outrageous, you don’t make that call. That’s my take. I know not everyone shares that opinion, but I just hate seeing a match decided on something like that.
But it wasn't decided on that, that call was at 5-1, 40-30 for her, not against her. She lost that game and then five more after that, I really don't think it was much of a factor or at least it shouldn't have been.
 

Matty005

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FWIW (not too much), she was striding away pretty fast after it was over, she wasn't favoring it at all.
Again, you’re probably right. That was more of an emotional response. Much like TB12 outside of here, I can’t stand all the, “hate” Serena gets. Being involved in tennis my entire life, what she has done for tennis, women in tennis (and all sports) and minorities and people who play who aren’t rich is more than anyone will ever do.

Not saying anyone here was hating at all. Just in general.
 

jon abbey

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FWIW, I have rooted for Serena pretty much every match her entire career, as well as Venus. I have always loved how they have achieved all that they have while coming up outside the system, close to impossible as you know even better than me.

I'm just commenting on that call, if that really was a factor, she didn't deserve to win. Finish the match.
 

jon abbey

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Serena being as magnanimous as I've ever heard her at the press conference, saying that Pliskova started playing the best tennis of her life at 5-1, 40-30 and that the ankle wasn't really bothering her enough to call a trainer plus she prefers to power through injuries if she can.
 

jon abbey

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Women's semis will be the weds-to-thurs overnight, Men's semis will be the thurs-to-fri overnight.
Had to doublecheck this, but this is actually the strange major that has both women's semis plus one men's semi tomorrow, then the second men's semi (the winners of the matches starting now) Thurs to Fri overnight.
 

InstaFace

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Serena being as magnanimous as I've ever heard her at the press conference, saying that Pliskova started playing the best tennis of her life at 5-1, 40-30 and that the ankle wasn't really bothering her enough to call a trainer plus she prefers to power through injuries if she can.
Serena said the right thing, as she had to, but it's BS. I saw clear as day that easy groundstrokes that would have been 95%+ suddenly became like 60% reliable for her, she lost some fraction of her power, and in particular her serves stopped being the pinpoint, reliable ones they had to be. How many double faults did she have after the ankle sprain, 4? How many in the entire match beforehand, 1? The impact was comprehensive, to all parts of her game. If she hadn't sprained her ankle we'd be talking about this as one of the biggest chokes of her career. She couldn't plant and twist the way she needed to, she lost like a step in her lateral court coverage, and the accuracy of her shots plummeted.

All credit to Pliskova for maintaining her focus and accuracy as she had all match. Very, very few women on the tour can take a set from a healthy and focused Serena as she did in the first set. Very few would have been able to take advantage in that third - many more would have failed to break in one of those subsequent chances, would have lost their nerve, would have withered under that final assault at 4*-5. I mean, in that game, Pliskova fought off, what, 4 break points? Serena was going for everything there, winners every shot. It took nerves of steel for Pliskova to close it out, but she also knew Serena had downshifted from 5th gear to, like, 2nd. There is no freaking way that happens, and so comprehensively, without the ankle bothering her more than just a little bit.

If she was too proud to call the trainer there, I think that's kinda stupid. Get some tape, get a few minutes to stretch it, see how you do. No, she wasn't walking with a noticeable limp, but anyone paying attention could see that she wasn't getting the usual power or behavior out of that ankle.
 

jon abbey

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Too bad, we were all pretty excited for the Osaka/Serena theater. So close...
 

jon abbey

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Serena said the right thing, as she had to, but it's BS. I saw clear as day that easy groundstrokes that would have been 95%+ suddenly became like 60% reliable for her, she lost some fraction of her power, and in particular her serves stopped being the pinpoint, reliable ones they had to be. How many double faults did she have after the ankle sprain, 4? How many in the entire match beforehand, 1? The impact was comprehensive, to all parts of her game. If she hadn't sprained her ankle we'd be talking about this as one of the biggest chokes of her career. She couldn't plant and twist the way she needed to, she lost like a step in her lateral court coverage, and the accuracy of her shots plummeted.

All credit to Pliskova for maintaining her focus and accuracy as she had all match. Very, very few women on the tour can take a set from a healthy and focused Serena as she did in the first set. Very few would have been able to take advantage in that third - many more would have failed to break in one of those subsequent chances, would have lost their nerve, would have withered under that final assault at 4*-5. I mean, in that game, Pliskova fought off, what, 4 break points? Serena was going for everything there, winners every shot. It took nerves of steel for Pliskova to close it out, but she also knew Serena had downshifted from 5th gear to, like, 2nd. There is no freaking way that happens, and so comprehensively, without the ankle bothering her more than just a little bit.

If she was too proud to call the trainer there, I think that's kinda stupid. Get some tape, get a few minutes to stretch it, see how you do. No, she wasn't walking with a noticeable limp, but anyone paying attention could see that she wasn't getting the usual power or behavior out of that ankle.
Very good post, thanks, and admittedly I was a bit distracted during the comeback. I still thought Serena should have been able to finish iit even with the injury, she came so close a bunch of times as you said, but Pliskova is really good and certainly knew she had a hurting opponent, also as you said.
 

jon abbey

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Nishikori has played three five setters already, looking early on like he has nothing left for a sharp Djokovic, 3-0 and counting.
 

jon abbey

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Kei gutting this out but getting steamrolled, 6-1, 3-1 and he took a medical timeout between sets.